High demand for Indian bamboo in Kenya, Ethiopia

Indian bamboo on its way to Af (Credit: ARVIND YADAV / CSE)indian bamboo is in high demand in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia. Kenya has asked for 50 kg of bamboo seeds from India, which is likely to go up in future. The species--Melocanna baccifera, Dendrocalamus asper and Bamboo bambusa--suit climate requirements in the two countries. The destruction of forests the worldover is alarming. But this is where bamboo can help.

"A bamboo matures in just four years whereas other trees take almost 30-40 years to mature. With a receding forest cover, increase in demand for bamboo for various uses is a positive sign," says Kamesh Salam of the Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre, Guwahati. "Another species Bambusa balcooa is strong and can be a good replacement for wood, and Bambusa Tulda, another variety, is soft, which is popular among artistes," says Y C Tripathi of the Rain Forest Research Institute, Jorhat. Bamboo is also well known for its edible shoots."Currently, only few groups from countries like Thailand are dominating the edible shoots market, but with time even countries like India and Kenya will also catch up," says Pranab Saikia, who runs Luit Valley Food Processing (P) Ltd, the first edible bamboo shoot processing plant in India.

India is the second richest country in terms of bamboo genetic diversity with a total of 136 species under 75 genera. It has about 8.96 million hectares of forestland, which is equivalent to 12.8 per cent of the total forest cover in the country. Almost two-thirds of the bamboo resource of India is from the northeast. The raw stock in the northeast is valued at Rs 5,000 crore and utilisation of even about 25 per cent can generate Rs 2,500 crore a year. Bamboo offers opportunities for employment and income generation. Over 1,500 uses of bamboo's have been recorded till date.

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